To Be Happy or Not to Be Happy: That is the Question

Posted: March 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm, Last Updated: March 20, 2015 at 3:40 pm


by Jennifer Lehman, MS RYT

Do you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is think about how bad your day will be? Or do you wake up ready to face the day no matter what comes your way? Research is beginning to show that your outlook, whether positive or negative, can affect your productivity in school, at work, and at home. Your creativity, intelligence, problem solving skills, and energy level can all be increased by bringing positivity into your life.

No matter what’s happening in your life, positive things are all around you. The challenge is to look for them. While you need to accept that negative or bad things happen, you can also think about how you can learn from your circumstances to avoid wallowing in despair. There really is no glory in being gloomy. After a negative event in life it might feel good to wallow for a while, but staying in that mood can bring down your productivity, grades, energy level and more. You can choose to continue to feel bad or you can work toward moving toward a more positive outlook.

In the midst of feeling low, how do you make the transition from gloomy to happy? Several techniques have been shown to help.

  • Exercise has been proven to elevate mood. The more you move, the more you benefit from the physiological and psychological changes that occur. In fact, both exercise and the emotion of happiness elevates hormones in your brain that make you more susceptible to learning and creativity! Exercise doesn’t have to be extreme. A good walk can make a big difference in clearing your mind and resetting your mood.
  • It might seem counter-intuitive, but write down things you’re grateful for or that make you happy. Called a gratitude journal, these bits of positivity during difficult times show you where positivity exists in your life so you can face your hard times with a better frame of mind.
  • Take time during the day to reflect on one or more things that bring you joy. It can be as simple as how good your morning cup of coffee, juice, etc. tastes. Sometimes the simplest things can bring us the greatest joy! Stopping to reflect is a good practice to remind you of all the good in your life.
  • Change your outlook. It’s easy to find fault or negative in just about everything. Instead of looking for bad, look for the positive or don’t make any judgment at all. If you have a problem, simply consider it as something to solve and determine a way to get through it.
  • Remember you’re not alone. Even if you’re physically alone, many others have gone through what you’re going through and have come out on the other end OK.

Sometimes finding joy or happiness can be a challenge. Sometimes really heavy things happen where it feels like you might never be happy again. Sometimes you’ll feel sad, angry, grumpy, happy, etc. Take time to process how you’re feeling and why. It could be that you’re grumpy because you’re hungry! You might feel sad because you’re hearing a song in the background that reminds you of something sad from your past. Whatever the emotion is your ability to move into and out of your emotions will help you to be more satisfied and content.

So choose happy! It’s really easier to do than you think!

The United Nations National Day of Happiness is Friday, March 20.  George Mason University is one of 40 organizations across the globe to be recognized participants!  Sign the Happiness Wall in the JC to participate.  Be there at 3:10pm for a live feed from the wall.  #happyacts